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Monthly Archives: October 2015

The problem with today’s liberals is that we are too busy living in the past. Right-wingers have a leg up in that respect as the party of the future. All the militant talk of purity and liberty and religious freedom is the path forward but liberals are simply too blind to see it. Instead, liberals are busy worried about global warming and international relations when they should be focused inward on our broken and deteriorating wreck of a country which, even as you read this, is surely in its final death throws.

So I have a solution for conservatives to help liberals get with the program. What liberals need is a change of vocabulary to help jossle our confused minds. The words we use have power, and unless we use powerful, accurate, and modern dialog, we liberals will remain behind the curve.

Let’s start with guns because lately there’s a lot of talk of guns in the media. The word ‘gun’ is out-dated. Let’s be honest. A gun conjures images of cold steel, but while accurate, it’s also 19th century and not really representative of today’s mindset. Accordingly, I propose we start calling guns ‘freedom sticks’. After all, what provides our freedom? Our freedom sticks!

Next, let’s talk about victims. First, we liberals need to remember that they are all about victimization. But what a terrible, old-school word! It does nothing to honor the fallen for their sacrifice. It’s weak, frankly, and desperately needs a retrofit from our aging vocabulary. From now on, I suggest conservatives refer to victims of gun violence as ‘the liberated’ to help our uninformed liberal hordes understand the value of freedom sticks.

Moving on to immigrants, the term ‘sovereignty deniers’ comes immediately to mind. Liberals will have a much easier time understanding conservative objections to immigrants if they are called something reasonably descriptive. Sovereignty deniers should be dealt with using freedoms sticks. See how it all comes together?

As a final example, I would suggest conservatives adopt them ‘CEO’ to replace the term ‘God’. We liberals have unwisely made the term God unwelcome in politics, schools, and elsewhere. This is terrible policy, but with all our childish bellyaching about the separation of church and state it has nevertheless come to pass. Still, conservatives know where the real power lies even if they aren’t allowed to say so. All they really need is a change in nomenclature to drive the point home, and who is the ultimate CEO? You guessed it!

All we really need are a few small changes to help our less intelligent neighbors finally see the brilliance of the conservative movement in all its glory. Let’s hope these changes catch on!

Would it be going too far if I called the entire Republican presidential field of candidates over the last 2 election cycles a national embarrassment? Maybe, but it’s not far off.

Let’s start with the last election.

The only candidate in 2012 who had a plausible shot at beating President Obama was Mitt Romney, but he fit in with the rest of the Republican field about as well as a boy scout at a biker rally. He was strictly a business oriented Republican and a pragmatist, not a culture warrior, and most Republicans didn’t care for him. In fact, one might say he was barely tolerated by red state voters who held their collective noses as they cast their ballots. They were voting more as a rebuke of President Obama than an endorsement of then candidate Romney.

The fact that the Republican standard bearer was so undesirable to his own party speaks volumes about how the Republicans perceived the political environment at the time. Specifically, it demonstrated that the brighter bulbs in the party who had an eye on the Whitehouse had long since concluded that running against President Obama was dead end. You only get one real chance at the Whitehouse, so why waste it?

This collective realization from nearly all the A-listers led to a power vacuum at the national level for the Republicans and set the stage for the zombie-like B-listers to wander haplessly into the void. And in they came. Candidates that ordinarily wouldn’t capture the attention of a newsroom intern were suddenly relevant and that’s why 2012 turned out to be such a disaster for the party. The patients were attempting to run the asylum.

Along with the lukewarmly-received Romney there was Ron Paul – a smart, articulate politico but also a fringe candidate with impractical views. Newt Gingrich was on his third wife which is generally a bad thing when you’re aspiring to represent the party of religion and family values, and he had a reputation from his time in congress as an angry partisan. Next there was Rick Santorum who couldn’t even get re-elected to Congress from his own state. Michele Bachmann was demagogue and nakedly ambitious. Her laughable attempt at a rogue State of the Union rebuttal was a debacle and helped seal her fate. Herman Cain was not a politician and it showed. Mike Huckabee was a creationist, and the others were even less notable than the those already mentioned. None was a serious threat to Obama.

Even the Republican electorate knew the field was stuffed with punchlines and they struggled throughout the primary season to find a suitable leader. No one wanted to settle for Romney and he had to wait his turn on the sidelines like the last kid to be picked in gym class. Polls showed voters scrutinizing literally every other candidate in the field before settling on him. A dubious honor with an unhappy and predicable ending.

Fast forward to 2015.

Now that the brass ring is up for grabs for the first time in 8 years, it should come as no surprise that the prospective candidates who grudgingly sat out the 2012 cycle are frothing at the opportunity to stake their claim. Pundits have said that the large number of GOP hopefuls is a result of the Citizens United ruling, allowing candidates to be propped up by a wealthy few, but they are only half right. The other reason is because Republican demagoguery is all the rage among the voters. If the Republican’s 2012 race (and Sarah Palin who came before them) showed the extremists on the right one thing, it was that bomb throwing is a tasty treat for primary voters.

All of these environmental changes culminated, at least momentarily, in the rise of Donald Trump. Trump is nothing less than the pinnacle of bombast, and both the public and the media have responded with open arms, although for different reasons than Trump would care to admit. The stupider, the more offensive, and the more in-your-face Trump has become, the larger his poll numbers. This has had 2 effects.

First, it’s contributed to the further decline of the stature of the Republican political machine as civility and reasonableness have been replaced by unapologetic hubris. This has also given rise to a whole slew of new candidate behaviors that would not have been tolerated in years past. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has been tripping all over himself of late to say outrageous things just to win a soundbite in the daily news cycle. It’s kind of sad to watch, but not unexpected as candidates fall all over themselves to trump Trump.

Second, it’s become nearly impossible for the better candidates to break through the noise, leaving the Republicans wondering for a second presidential election in a row if they’re going to be forced once again to field a settled-for as their party’s choice. Everyone expects Trump to fall, but no one knows when.

The Republicans have a huge right-wing problem and it’s left them a laughing stock instead of an ideological rival. A quick glance at a bell curve reminds us that the Republicans have no chance of winning from the far right. They need the center, period – but bomb-throwers don’t live in the center. So they are left with a shattered reputation and unelectable candidates who can only pretend to compete effectively as malarkey can only get you so far.

And that’s how the Republican party presidential field became such a mess.

Virtually nothing important happened in politics yesterday, with 2 notable exceptions. First, Paul Ryan formally entered the race for Speaker of the House. (But then, that doesn’t appear to be much of a race.) Secondly, Hillary testified.

Ryan’s news was expected. He’s already been running for the seat since McCarthy bailed whilst trying his best to look disinterested. Then suddenly he’s ready! On a side note, his gaffe about family time was slightly amusing as well, truth be told. I’m sure he was thinking that the optics of wanting to be a good family man was probably a good thing – until the hypocrisy of his stated position on family leave was juxtaposed. Epic fail.

Onward to the Circus

As for Hillary, while many in the press have proclaimed there was no clear winner, I beg to differ. For Mrs Clinton, big, big win. Maybe the biggest win before the general election. With one fell swoop, the email and Benghazi controversies have come to an end. The Republicans got nothing. NOTHING. And they spent nearly half a day trying. In fact, they are probably worse off than before the testimony. Not only was there no smoking gun, but they came off as combative, partisan and the entire scene was at times chaotic.

They didn’t even get a good soundbite for their troubles.

If they couldn’t put anything useful together from their so-called ‘investigation’, then that’s the end of the road. What more is left? A ninth investigation?

When they finally release their findings, whatever negative feedback they offer will be seen as partisan. Who expects a positive report from this committee? And so nothing will come from it. I predict 1-2 days of punditry and then silence. With the election more than a year away, it’s difficult to see this as a prominent election issue.

October 22, 2015 in Politics

C-Day, as in Hillary Clinton’s Day to Testify

Everyone is anticipating the fireworks at today’s hearing. The stakes couldn’t be higher. If the Republicans can provoke a mistake from Hillary, it could follow her all the way to the election. Meanwhile, due to recent events, the Republicans are now at risk of making Hillary look like a sympathetic figure if they attack her like surely planned. This would have long-term consequences as well. If Hillary gaffes, the mistake will only embolden the Republicans which have been gravely wounded over the last few weeks, but if the Republicans come across as partisan, it will serve to insulate her from any similar lines of attack in the future.

Ryan’s In. Biden’s Out.

So who’s smarter? The prize goes to Joe Biden, who would be fending off the muscular political machine of Hillary Clinton only to face a blitzkrieg of unrelenting attacks during the general election. He realized the fight isn’t worth the effort, and probably isn’t winnable anyway. At least not for him. The nomination is pretty much already ordained in the eyes of most to go to Hillary, and the mood on the street is that she’s got a good chance at winning.

Meanwhile Ryan is in a for rough ride. Like Hillary, he’s currently the favorite in his own right to hold the speaker’s gavel. But the wave he’s riding will break into a swampy bog once he takes the seat. How exactly is this young neophyte supposed to avert shutdown threat after shutdown threat driven by the extremists? These people are more than willing to walk him down the plank should he veer off course. Eventually he’ll prove to be a paper captain, squashed under a ton of right leaning tomes. On the other hand, if he can make it past the upcoming budget and debt limit fights without serious bruises, then all bets are off.

Extremism is a Poison Pill

It’s no secret that today’s Republicans are at war with one another. Over the last several years the right flank has grown increasingly militaristic in its rhetoric as well is in its deeds, but is it a winning strategy or path to nowhere? Common sense would dictate the latter, and yet on they soldier, increasingly isolating themselves from the mainstream as they stake out ever more hard-line positions while pulling even the moderate Republican voices to the right as they go.

It Started with RINOs

The most obvious flaw in today’s far-right militaristic ideology is the concept of a purity test. Republicans are scrutinized and graded on their voting record and rhetoric like no other party in the United States. Stray too far from the conservative line and you’re tainted a ‘RINO’ – an impostor who must be ‘purged’.

Whoever invented this gem of a moniker was either a genius yet diabolical Democratic strategist or, more likely, a myopic conservative who didn’t understand the concepts of inclusion or compromise. Simple logic dictates that you can’t expect to be the party of the big tent and yet haul your rank-and-file members before the ‘purging’ firing squad. It’s inconsistent and short sighted, yet practiced today without so much as pretext to disguise their disgust with those who fail to measure up.

It’s not surprising that die-hard conservative extremists would embrace the concept of a purity test for their party leaders. What is surprising is that use the of pejorative RINO and terms like purity test are tolerated in general within the party by the more moderate, establishment Republican leaders. These are offensive, exclusionary terms by definition and turn off those in the middle who would otherwise lean right. It begs the question: how many Republicans have left the party as the extremists attempt to hijack the organization and demonize their own more moderate members?

Grover Norquist and his Illogical Taxation Pledge

Grover Norquist’s no tax pledge is yet another example of extremist ideology run amok. Governing costs money, period. The idea that a politician must pledge to never raise taxes is like a gardener pledging to never use more water, no matter the circumstances. What about during a really hot year? The marginal income tax rate could be lowered but simple logic dictates that if you lower it too much and you run out of money for necessary items, you’re all going to have to break your famous pledge. Then what?

Pledging to NEVER do something in politics should be a red flag to the moderate and reasonable peoples of this country that something isn’t right. Politicians taking the pledge are either short sighted or pandering. Either way, it’s a fool’s errand and a silly pledge, but so far it’s tolerated and Norquist is considered important by conservatives.

Tea Party Patrons

The Tea Party claims to champion fiscal conservatism, but their approach to governing has been so extreme that many in the political center are turned off by the harsh rhetoric and political brinkmanship. The result is a tarnished brand leaving many in the political center turned-off and unwilling to identify with what they view as an extremist – and in many cases racist – organization.

Tea partiers haven’t helped themselves by embracing extremist politicians like Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and other bomb throwers and firebrands. It’s great press, but it doesn’t lead to the majority or the presidency.

Immigration

Today’s Republicans are not shying away from the topic of immigration driven mostly by the bloviating Donald Trump. But immigration built this country, and as a great and free country, our population is liable to continue to grow as more and more people come to our shores. The xenophobic strategy of demonizing immigrants at the expense of the long term party health is just another example of short sighted extremism trumping (pun intended) political realities.

Conservativism is Doomed to Fail Anyway

Social conservatives are agog over family values, tradition, and religion. But nothing in our society ever remains the same. The most they can hope to do is slow the progress. Today’s conservatives are pulled along with social change in spite of their stalwart opposition even if they don’t realize it. Back in 2000 when then presidential candidate Bush used gay marriage as a wedge issue to win the presidency, the American electorate was so uncomfortable with the concept that it proved to be a highly effective strategy. A mere 15 years later, the country’s mood has shifted to such an extent that gay marriage is now the law of the land, and even right-wing politicians consider it a settled matter for the most part. No one expects a reversal on policy after the Supreme Court ruled on the topic, and the idea of an amendment to the constitution is a pipe dream shared by only a few.

On issue after social issue, and given enough time, the winds of political reality blow ever leftward leaving those unwilling to change in continuously shrinking minorities. Taken together, the militant and shortsighted views of the American conservative movement is deeply flawed and can’t continue to govern unless it changes course in a significant way.

You can’t exclude, demonize, bully, and insult without long term consequences. This should be simple and obvious, but to the American extreme right, it makes perfect sense.